The 2021 Mazda CX-30 subcompact SUV is available in standard 2.5 S and optional Turbo models. (Mazda)

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 subcompact SUV is available in standard 2.5 S and optional Turbo models. (Mazda)

New turbocharged version livens up the Mazda CX-30 lineup

The year-old subcompact SUV with sporty driving dynamics now has the brawn to back it up.

Mazda’s CX-30 subcompact SUV was a debutant last year, and this year it’s sowing some wild oats with a new Turbo model on board.

The standard CX-30 engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder producing 186 horsepower, decent enough. But for drivers in search of more spunk, the new turbocharged version offers 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque when served premium fuel, or 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet with regular.

The power boost affects fuel economy but not by much. The EPA rating for combined fuel economy is 26 mpg for the standard engine and 25 mpg for the Turbo. Full EPA fuel economy ratings for the CX-30 Turbo are 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.

A skillful six-speed automatic transmission and Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive are standard on every 2.5 Turbo model. There’s a nice driver-selectable off-road mode for better traction in dicier circumstances, but the CX-30 isn’t designed for challenging off-road use. Its mere 8 inches of ground clearance is the first giveaway.

Though CX-30 has four doors, a rear lift gate accessing a cargo area and seating for five (the basic definition of an SUV), its seating position is not as elevated as it is with more typical SUVs. The CX-30 looks and drives more like a sporty wagon, doubly so when turbocharged.

There are three CX-30 Turbo trim levels: the base 2.5 Turbo, mid-grade 2.5 Turbo with Premium Package, and top-level 2.5 Turbo with Premium Plus Package.

Pricing with destination included starts at $31,000 for the base model. Mid-grade is an extra $2,400 and the top model is another $1,600 after that.

Standard features on the well-equipped 2.5 Turbo include 18-inch black aluminum alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power windows with one-touch up and down at all four positions, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, leatherette seats, heated front seats, power moonroof, 8.8-inch infotainment system and Mazda Connect with an inclusive list of related features expected today, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability but curiously lacking SiriusXM. The list of safety and driver assistance features is inclusive as well.

The Premium Package adds a head-up display, adaptive headlights, Bose 12-speaker audio, heated steering wheel, leather seats, navigation, power lift gate, SiriusXM, paddle shifters and traffic sign recognition.

And to all of the above, the Premium Plus Package adds auto-dimming driver’s door mirror, traffic jam assist, Homelink, parking sensors, 360-degree view monitor, smart city brake support reverse, and rear cross-traffic braking.

Interior and exterior styling of the Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo has powerful appeal. Practicality-wise for a subcompact, it does a good job of providing a generous and useful cargo area, handy stowage spaces for smaller items, and comfortable room for front passengers. The second row definitely comes in second for legroom, not unexpected in a subcompact.

Mazda’s stock-in-trade, even within the SUV market, is delivering enjoyable driving dynamics. The 2021 CX-30 Turbo is all that, with some utility thrown in for good measure. You can travel the highway comfortably in this car, run errands and load up on a reasonable amount of goods, but you’ll want to be on Snohomish County’s wonderful twisty backroads.


Base price, including destination charge: $35,000

Price as driven: $35,400

Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.

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